‘I never wanted to do anything else except be right here’
Independently owned Ye Olde Pharmacy thrives, celebrates 20 years

By Sheryl Popp - Special to the News Graphic

Dec. 20, 2018

 Ye Olde Pharmacy owner John Jankowski said you won’t find motor oil, lawn chairs or alcohol in his store. Instead, he focuses solely on the health care needs of his clients, providing niche products and “a lot of consulting.”
Photo by Mark Justesen

CEDARBURG — You might say it’s been an uphill battle, but John Jankowski, owner of Ye Olde Pharmacy and Wellness Center in Cedarburg, never doubted his business could compete against the big guys and succeed.

He and a partner, who Jankowski has since bought out, opened the doors of the Mill Street store in December 1998. Although two chain drugstores were already in the city, as well as an area grocery with a pharmacy, Jankowski said it’s the model of his store that made them think they could make a go of it.

“We have no motor oil, no hoses or lawn chairs here,” he said. “What we do have is a safety section, first aid supplies, wheelchair sales and rental, vitamins and nutrients, compression stockings, knee braces, diabetic socks and shoes and personalized service. You must have a well-trained and certified staff to assist customers with these types of products.”

From day one, Jankowski has believed in providing  home delivery. With a full-time and back-up driver on staff, deliveries are made daily and at no cost. Jankowski reports that seniors take advantage of this service, especially if they have difficulty getting out. Many customers have their weekly medication packets delivered by the drivers.

“You hear and see advertising that other drugstores make home delivery, but it’s by mail,” said Jankowski. “It can take two or three days for a prescription to arrive.”

Jankowski and staff service 14 group homes primarily in Ozaukee County, and several in Milwaukee. They package medicines for the residents and visit them to conduct medication reviews. Medication reviews are also provided for in-store customers.

“We sit down and review everything a person has been taking,” said Jankowski. “We look for drug interactions and see if there is something that can be replaced with natural supplements.”

 Pictured are some of the Ye Olde Pharmacy employees, along with owner John Jankowski,
back left.
Photo by Mark Justesen

Ye Olde Pharmacy also does “compounding.” These products are custom-blended with no lactose, no dyes or fillers and include animal medications, pain creams and medicines and hormone replacement blends.

Ye Olde Pharmacy has a pharmacist intern program for college students. To date, about 100 interns have gone through the program and Jankowski boasts a 99percent satisfaction rate from both sides. One student came from South Carolina and negotiated rates with a local bed-and-breakfast in order to stay for the six- to-eight-week program.

“They are interested in seeing how an independent pharmacy operates,” said Jankowski. “It’s not like training in a chain store or a nursing home. We hope some students choose this path.”

Twenty employees work in the business today. When it opened, staff consisted of Jankowski and his mother, who remained working until shortly before her death.

“The first day we opened,” he recalled, “we had no orders. The second day we had one. On the third day, we offered free cholesterol testing and I thought ‘what did I get into?’ We were buried in people.”

Jankowski said his last family vacation was in 2013. He doesn’t think his children are too anxious to follow in his footsteps. But the satisfaction he derives from providing quality care and unique services at competitive pricing is well worth the long hours.

“It takes stomach and nerve to help people in the face of modern insurance,” he said. “But I never wanted to do anything else except be right here.”